Closing the cybersecurity talent gap: It's up to us
Recent cyberattacks that disrupted the nation’s meat and fuel supply chains amplify the critical need for secure management of data and intellectual property and the demand for professionals to protect digital assets from cyber threats.
Western Michigan University’s new cybersecurity program can help you connect with professionals at the master’s level and pre-professionals at the undergraduate level who are trained to monitor, analyze and respond to cyberattacks in computer and network systems.
The program’s interdisciplinary approach combines business information systems with computer science, giving graduates the necessary technical and team-building skills as well as knowledge about various software platforms, their inherent vulnerabilities and how they affect business processes.
“This is an innovative degree program and we’re very willing to work with businesses and organizations to make sure our graduates have the qualifications employers need.” —Dr. Alan Rea, professor of business information systems and co-director of cybersecurity programs
“This is an innovative degree program and we’re very willing to work with businesses and organizations to make sure our graduates have the qualifications employers need,” said Dr. Alan Rea, professor of business information systems and co-director of cybersecurity programs. “We’re focused on developing professionals to address industry cybersecurity needs because we know that the more successful industries are in protecting their information assets and intellectual property, the more successful our students will be in return.”
Demand for information security analysts is projected to grow by 31% between 2019 and 2029—much faster than the average for all occupations—according to the United States Bureau of Labor and Statistics. Rea said these analysts will have the potential to command salaries of more than $100,000 within the first few years of employment.
Katie Marshall is one of the first graduates of WMU’s online cybersecurity master’s program and is passing on the skills she learned as an instructor of business information systems, a role she assumed in summer 2019.
“There’s been an immense increase in accounts, passwords and personally identifiable information floating through cyberspace due to the pandemic,” says Marshall. “That puts additional pressure on an environment already primed for attackers and a critical need for secure management of information through policies and practices, both in workplaces and personal life.”
The interconnectivity of the global economy requires businesses and other organizations to take a defensive security posture against domestic and international cyberattacks. Rea said what was particularly alarming about the ransomware used by the hackers responsible for attacking the Colonial Pipeline is that it offered a complete business model to anyone who wants to launch an attack.
“Attackers are going after supply chains right now,” says Rea. “The pandemic has disrupted supply chains, and industry supply chain security is not where it needs to be. No matter how protected you are, if a supplier gets hit, you can have issues.”
The flexible nature of the online master’s program allows full-time professionals to complete courses when it’s convenient, allowing them to prepare for a promotion or move into the cybersecurity field. Rea said he expects students in the first cohort of the undergraduate program will easily find good paying positions.
“Everybody is looking for people with cyber degrees and there are many openings,” says Rea. “Instead of going out to find new employees, consider hiring an intern and let them train and advance within your organization.”
To inquire about opportunities to partner with us, visit wmich.edu/corporate.
“Instead of going out to find new employees, consider hiring an intern and let them train and advance within your organization.” —Dr. Alan Rea, professor of business information systems and co-director of cybersecurity programs